There are many details that a homeowner should be aware of when negotiating with the government or other entity on an eminent domain case. We know the details can seem overwhelming and daunting, but being well informed and having the right representation by your side can help you walk away from negotiations with the right amount of compensation for your property. Follow some of the tips below to be informed and protected.
The Landowner’s Bill of Rights
When a government entity or corporation knocks on your door or contacts you through any means to acquire your land through eminent domain, it must present you with a copy of the Landowner’s Bill of Rights. This document is published by the State of Texas and must be presented to you when first contact is made. Be sure to read it carefully. We highly recommend contacting our eminent domain attorneys for legal advice if you aren’t presented with this document or are having trouble understanding it.
This biggest asset you’ll have when facing an eminent domain notice is a non-biased appraiser. This is someone who isn’t working for the government or other party interested in your land. An appraisal for fair market value should be performed by an expert who will give you an objective value on your piece of land so that the attorneys for both sides can cross examine the findings and project how this will affect the case.
Never forget that there may be the possibility that an appraiser might’ve been chosen by the government or party interested in your land. While it’s safe to say that they may be fair, do approach the amount presented to you with caution, especially if it seems less than expected.
Also, remember that there are many other factors to take into consideration when deciding on an amount versus what the government presents. For example, the government won’t account for potential future income streams, groundwater rights or even a possible existence of oil on your land.
The Reason for Land Seizure
Yes, the government does have the power to buy your property even if you’re not on the market to sell, but it can only do so with good reason. Whether a powerful corporation, the government, local officials or other entity is interested, remember that it can only be done if your land presents an opportunity for construction that serves the greater good of the community.
Be Wary of Claims
For the most part, a government entity will usually engage with homeowners in good faith when it comes to valuing your property. What does this mean? The entity should share all information about the land being appraised with the homeowner. Also, the government cannot threaten or intimidate homeowners with legal action. Keep in mind that if the entity finds a way to buy the property for a low price, it will do so.
Project SH 68
Currently, Project SH 68 is in the last stages of inception before final details are added for construction of a four-lane highway with future mainlines and overpasses in the eastern part of Hidalgo County. The areas assumed to be affected are Donna and the northern region of Edinburg. If you’ve received any type of mail or information concerning your property with this project, we urge you to contact us to help you through the eminent domain process.
We Want to Help
Dealing with an eminent domain case can be terrifying and overwhelming. Don’t negotiate with a government entity or other party on your own, especially when dealing with contracts and terms you may not understand. If you or anyone you know has been affected by Project SH 68 or other eminent domain situation, please give Fryer & Hansen a call.